The elephant in the blog

You'd think missing three Monthly Check-Ins in a row meant I was splashing around in a gigantic pile of Twix wrappers. But all is well – I've been busy taking a long hard look at myself.

This past month been incredible and I am so full of the joys I could spew! But before I get to the fun stuff, I wanted to fill in the gaps.

. . .

It's a bizarre thing to write about your weight in a public place for eleven years. Kinda ridiculous, let's be honest. But I love this nerdy habit and have met so many amazing people as a result. The trick is not to let it mess with your head. Unfortunately, I'd begun to do just that.

Despite working on the mindfulness and self-acceptance stuff, the old "You Suck" voice had reared its grotty head these past couple of months. I'd start writing then feel completely bowled over by shame, anxiety and dread, stemming from both the regained weight and my failure thus far to re-lose it.

Sometimes the shame was sparked from within, other times triggered by external stuff. I've developed a tougher skin over the years but when you're already feeling low it's hard not to crumble a little when you receive opinions ranging from friendly curiosity, concern, to apparent disappointment over the size of your body.

Anyway, there I was feeling like a stinking fraud and like nothing I wrote would ever be worthy until the day I could report, Hey folks, you can come back now. I'm normal again! I match the After photo!

Suddenly it was all about the lard again. If I wasn't scheming ways to worm out of all social plans for the rest of the year, I was doing frantic maths to figure out how to lose X kilos in Y weeks by cutting down to Z calories so I'd look halfway "acceptable" again.

But then I had an epiphany in early April, at my friend Sarah's wedding. All night I sat on the sidelines, too self-conscious to get on the dance floor with my friends. Dancing is one of my favourite things in the world, but I was frozen to my chair. I could not stop thinking about how much space I took up. The thoughts came so dark and fast; I felt like I was growing wider by the second.

The déjà vu was a smack in the chops – the last time I'd felt like that was a night out with my friends back in Australia, eleven years earlier.

Shauna, this officially SUCKS, I thought. Are you really going back here again? You know you want more than this.

It was time, as mentioned earlier, to take a looooong hard look at myself. This is what I figured out:

1. Focusing on external stuff doesn't work
It must be the 357th time I've relearned this lesson, ahem. But fear of public events, disappointed strangers, holiday snaps, not being liked and/or increasingly enormous undies are not lasting incentives to get me on the spinning bike. When I'm home alone with the kitchen cupboard doors flung open, they're not compelling enough reasons. Shame only takes me so far forward, then it leads me straight back to the biscuit tin.

2. I need to focus on what I want
… rather than what I think I should want, do or be. I asked the flaming obvious question, "This is your life, what the heck do you want out of it?". I wrote a dorky list of stuff and I've been reading it every morning. It took a few weeks, but now it pops into my mind when I'm working out or staring down a cake. A gazillion times more effective than, "I shouldn't eat that or I'll look crap at Fitbloggin" or "Must do training walk otherwise I'm a shite example for Up & Running."

3. I'm a bloody boring person when I fixate on weight
Dude. There's more to me than my size. I have a wonderful, kickarse life. But for awhile there I couldn't see the forest for the flab. I was hiding away from my friends, being a moody git, not being very present. Which leads me to…

4. Fun first, fat second
Because there's too much good stuff happening! I had to get out of my head and back into the world. First on the agenda was finally going indoor climbing with my friend Tor, the awesome one who persuaded me to do the Santa Run and Loony Dook. She'd asked me yonks ago but I made all sorts of excuses, including "I'm Too Fat for climbing". Yes, I was back there again!

But thankfully I came to my senses and Tor very patiently showed me the ropes, HAW HAW. There was a hilarious moment when I could not let go of the wall… top metaphor! But awhile later I lost my grip and fell off and instead of being shitscared I was just annoyed and wanted to do it over… an even better metaphor. It was an awesome, awesome day (thanks Tor!) and made me feel rebooted and refocused on what's important.

Here I am in my post-climb squinty sweaty glory!

Let's climb

Since then the momentum has been building. And whaddya know… the scale is going down again.

Well, you deserve a medal if you got through this post. Next time I need to tell you all about ITALY and the Up & Running retreat and the big race and the Nutella.

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Ego DOMS

The Mothership has returned to her native planet and I'm feeling a little bereft. I miss our walks and long chats and her rosy pink cheeks after a half pint of Gareth's home-brewed stout. Sniff.

Last week I was suffering from total Ego DOMS, as contracted at Pilates class. We were doing stability ball bridges. Our instructor had us try a variation with no hands on the floor:

Stability ball bridge

Credit: 101 Exercises

I immediately lost my balance and plonked to the ground. Ego damaged, I desperately wanted to show her that I could do it and wasn't a useless fatty*. So I got into bridge again, found my abs and got dead stable. I never knew I could be so strong and still… the hamstrings and abs were singing! I counted 2.5 minutes and the instructor was still down the front of the room assisting someone. Then she said "Okay, let's move on!" and I got all huffy as she'd not witnessed my amazing balancing glory! Then I just cracked up laughing at the ridiculous need for approval. I paid for it with three days of mega DOMS of the abs where laughter felt like being stabbed.

* One side-effect of regained poundage has been the occasional return of paranoia that instructors will think larger = rubbish. But at least these days when that kind of defensiveness pops up, I can observe it in a bemused I see what're you doing there kind of way, then move on. And channel it into a good abdominal workout!

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Cycling Tips

If you’re reading this on Sunday, I’m in merry old England slowly pootling along on the Cycletta bike ride. I’m writing this on Thursday but I think we can safely insert – freakout, nausea, buttock-clenching fear – right here as per every adventure I’ve written about over the past decade.

I’ll be riding with my friend Gillian who sent me this hilarious video of cycling tips. Can’t wait to work “about as clever as giving a balloon to a hedgehog” into a conversation!

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Paranoia for Pudding

We'd just finished dessert (yogurt and fruit) but my stomach was still grumbling as I made us a cup of tea.

"Man… I could really go a teacake right now"

"What's a teacake?" asked Gareth.

"Kind of like a hot cross bun, but flatter and less spicy with lots of fruit."

"But you just had fruit."

I slowly set the teaspoon on the counter and turned to glare. "What's that supposed to mean?!"

"What do you mean, what's that supposed to mean?"

"I know that tone! It's the you've only just eaten and now you want MORE? tone!"

"There was no such tone!"

"You used the Mothership tone of implied gluttony!"

"I've only met your Mum three times, how could I know her tones?"

"Her tones are powerful and easily absorbed."

"You're so paranoid about food!"

"I thought you were having a go at me," I sniffed. "You weren't having a go at me?"

"Nooo!" he laughed.

"Oh." I resumed stirring the tea and pondered. "Hang on! Was your emphasis on the HAD? Like you were saying, but you only just HAD fruit; why would you want to consume even MORE fruit? Wouldn't you rather chocolate or sardines or something non-fruity?"

"Exactly!"

"Well. That's alright then!"

"Or biscuits. Have we got any biscuits?"

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After the happy ending

I wrote this guest post for Refuse To Regain as part of the Dietgirl Virtual Book Tour. I've archived it here as I know lots of people stalk their way through the archives and it's a very important entry, explaining where I'm at now in terms of my maintenance struggles adventures! Be sure to stop by at Refuse To Regain - it's a fabulous blog and resource for maintainers.

My first year of maintenance was easy. I think I cruised through on euphoria alone. Every day in my new body was an adventure – I rejoiced in my new clothes, new fitness and new ability to fit inside bathtubs.

Later that year I finished writing a book that charted my six-year, 175-pound weight loss journey. I was still giddy with excitement as I churned out the Epilogue. My body is something to savor and celebrate, I wrote. Every time I put on lipstick and high heels it feels like I'm singing to world about the joy I've found within.
The second year was a different story. Everything was messy and unpredictable. I was simultaneously renovating our apartment, starting a demanding new job and promoting my book in the UK and Ireland. I also took on big fitness challenges, such as training for kickboxing grades and a marathon walk. As the year dragged on there were personal issues and a serious financial scare, then we sold our apartment and moved house.

As a result my maintenance efforts were chaotic. I'd alternate weeks of intense exercise with weeks of nothing at all. I'd buy takeout too often then go crazy with healthy cooking to compensate. I wrestled the same ten pounds all year long, pinging up and down the scale. Instead of high heels and celebrations, it was more brooding on the couch in my sweatpants.

Meanwhile, my inbox was flooded with messages from people who'd read my book. You're such an inspiration! You're living the happy ending! You must be so proud! I didn't feel proud or inspiring. Sure I've lost a few pounds but look at me now! I'm barely holding it together! If those kind readers knew how much I struggled, they'd demand a refund! I felt like a fraud as I answered their email questions about my exercise program, instead of actually doing my exercise program. I made jokes about my woes on my blog, not wanting to alienate readers new and old with too much doom and gloom. But the negativity crept in. I spoke about maintenance with words like "struggle" and "battle" and "never-ending stinkfest".

There were times when I could have cheerfully burned my book. I bugged the heck out of myself with my optimism and irritating self acceptance. I was just plain jealous of Book Shauna, to be honest. I could barely believe that was me who'd lost all that weight and stuck at it for so many years. How did I start wanting change more than chocolate? That determined girl seemed like a stranger and I worried I'd never find her again.

The third year of maintenance was rapidly approaching and I was desperate to make it different. It was a lot like the start of my weight loss mission – I thought someone else must have the secret. I started reading blogs written by fellow maintainers, such as this one. I stalked through their archives, looking for magic solutions. But instead of magic, I read about hard work and persistence; the ability to learn from mistakes and pick yourself back up after a crappy day. Or even a crappy month or year.

I finally had my DUH moment. Maintenance was really no different from weight loss. Sometimes it is fabulous and sometimes it sucks. And that's okay.

I think part of me thought that writing THE END on my manuscript would mean The End of the struggle and The End of learning stuff. Surely after six ridiculous years of lard-busting I'd have figured out my Issues for good? But life doesn't stop when you close a book. The story plows on, the character keeps evolving. Holding on to that happy ending is hard work.

A few months on I'm starting to feel more at peace with the realities of maintenance. I'm starting to live and breathe that happy ending again, albeit without the delirium of the first year. Life is still stupidly busy, but I remembered the best thing I learned in the weight loss phase – the journey is easier when you make it enjoyable. Last year I was falling back into the arms of my old dieter's mindset – all or nothing thinking, expecting perfection, dwelling on mistakes and not savouring the good stuff. But now I want to celebrate how far I've come, instead of feeling overwhelmed by it or taking it for granted. Maintenance doesn't seem like such a drag when I take time out to find the joy in the little things. The peacefulness of a Pilates stretch. The gleeful clobbering of my kickboxing class. The wholesome smugness of a healthy day's eating. I'm ready to dust off those high heels and lipsticks.

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Paddle Your Own

Woohoo! I did another New Activity yesterday… CANOEING!

On the weekend we stayed with some friends and their three crazy kids. We all went to a nice wee loch suitable for unskilled morons, nothing to be scared of. But as soon as the canoe came off the car roof and I got strapped into a lifejacket I froze.

It was only for a second but it was there, automatic and insistent, that old voice in my ear. You’re fat and you’re crap and you’re going to suck at this.

I looked at the little kiddies kayaking and the old dudes fishing; so many potential witnesses to my incompetence. I started stammering my excuses but Gareth is used to the Fat Girl Freakouts now. He said very kindly and firmly, "You’re going to be fine."

And of course I bloody was. Canoeing RULES. And I did not suck. First I went out with Dave and he explained the strokes and I made an arse of my left and right as usual. But then I got the hang of it and went out again with Gareth. And then I got in the back seat and learned how to steer. Which was difficult but still enjoyable. I paddled and paddled til my shoulders ached and today I can yell out like Ringo Starr at the end of Helter Skelter, I’ve got blisters on my fingers! I feel rather proud of them.

Today I am still on some sort of bizarre post-canoe high. I loved being out on the water, stabbing away at it with my paddle. It was so serene and almost hyponotic. Maybe I’ll go all Ray Mears now and cruise down some rivers, or carve my own boat out of a tree trunk with my bare teeth. I just know that I want to do it again. Agaaaaaain!

Now I just have to think of something for New Activity #3.

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Nutrition Nerds Unite!

Ooh I just had a great brekkie. It was my usual combination of oats (uncooked), pumpkin and sunflower seeds, Yeo Valley yogurt and chopped banana, except this time I chucked some blueberries in as well, since the little blue bastards were actually on sale this week instead of costing approximately £1 per berry! I stirred all this stuff until it became one chunky, vomitous clump then chomped away quite happily with the occassional blueberry pleasantly exploding with superhealthy antioxidant goodness. Sweeeeeeeeeeet.

That blueberry link was from the World's Healthiest Foods site, which aside from Krista's Weights page is probably the best site I've ever found for lard-busting advice and ideas. While I may eaten whole jars of Nutella with a spoon in the past, these days I am a nutrition nerd and love learning about vitamins and essential fatty acids and so-called superfoods. This site is an invaluable tool if you want to learn more about the benefits of eating healthy whole, REAL foods instead of your crazy-processed LF FF NF Cheezy Stikz or Diet Lite Choco-Crunch or Reduced Carb Pasta or whatnot.

The site has an exhaustive A – Z list of the World's Healthiest Foods, with detailed nutritional info per serving. Not just about calories, but vitamins and minerals. For example take kale, the under-appreciated leafy green. It's got vitamin A, vitamin C, fibre, calcium, potassium, iron, folate and magnesium… and bazillions of other healthy shit. Ooh, geekgasm! There are also recipes, menu plans and best of all the Food Advisor quiz, where you can answer a few questions about what you eat and it tells you where your diet may be lacking (eg. possible vitamin deficiencies) and what percentage of foods you are eating from the WHF list.

I took the test again today and this week I am eating 88% WHF, no doubt boosted by all the goddamn birdseed I eat. This is good, but it also suggested  I need to eat more foods containing Vitamin B12, D and E. So I just click on the little link and it tells me a bunch of suitable foods. Easy peasy. Improving my diet  looks as simple as adding an egg and perhaps a serve of meat. Plus I ain't eating enough greens. If you have five minutes to take the test, it's really worth it. Be brutally honest in your answers because it really helps you to see areas you could improve on.

I am sorry if the above has bored your pants off, but if you're a fellow nutrition nerd you may just get a nice warm feeling in your naughty areas by spending some quality time on that site.

. . .

One year ago I wrote about buying my first pair of running shoes. You can relive the grand melodrama here, but basically it took me three attempts and a few tears before I actually got inside the store. Why? Because I was bloody intimidated by the idea of running, thinking I didn't belong and my lardy arse would be laughed out of the shop. The saleslady was actually very helpful and patient, but I was so flustered that I ended up grabbing a random pair coz I was freaking out and not wanting her to watch me run up and down the shop again. Big mistake.

It wasn't until April this year that I actually started training properly. Initially things were okay but always felt some discomfort with the shoes. I chalked it up to them not being worn in yet, but after about six weeks my right knee was causing serious pain. When I finally sat down and tried to figure out the cause, I realised that my shoes really did not fit me properly. They were just totally bloody wrong for my feet. The toes on my right foot would shove up against the front of the shoe when I ran. My feet oozed over the sides of the shoe as they weren't wide enough. In fact, the sides of the shoe were starting to split.

But I didn't have the time or funds for a new pair of shoes, so after couple weeks of no running and copious leg exercises, I did the 5k race in the shitty shoes. Weeks of EVIL eeeeeevil knee pain followed. I couldn't run at all, I had to drop all my weights for squats and lunges. Stairs were a nightmare. So I ended up going to the physio, and after six weeks of exercises and RPM, my knee finally felt okay again. So last Friday I finally went back to the running store!

What a difference from a year ago. This time I charged right into the shop and felt comfortable, like I had every right to be there. Gone was the nausea and trembling fear, huzzah! I spoke to the same chick as last time and explained I'd bought these shoes from her but I'd done so far too quickly and didn't get the right ones, because I'd been an absolute beginner and quite scared by the idea of buying running shoes. She gave me a puzzled look, as if I'd told her I was scared of kittens or chocolate bars. Who'd be afraid of that?

But anyway. I showed her my old shoes and she agreed that while they were the right style (some motion control) they were totally wrong fit for my feet. They were way too small and narrow. So she started dragging out a bazillion boxes of shoes. She said it would be a lot of trial and error as I belonged to "quite a specific niche" of the shoe market. My feet are very wide, I overpronate and my right foot is bigger than the left. I tried over a bloody dozen pairs. The more popular breeds were too narrow or didn't feel like they were giving me any support. I tried some mens shoes but they felt too heavy. Arrgh. Too narrow! Too soft! Too heavy! It was like Goldilocks and the Three Bazillion Shoes.

The same thing happened last year, and I'd sat there surrounded by shoe boxes trying not to hyperventilate. But this time I was calm and patient. I'd lace up each different pair then run up and down the shop without having to be asked, letting her watch my ass blobbing along. I was so focused on finding The Right Pair that I did not give a shit what my thighs looked like, nor did I freak out at all the skinny chicks cluttering up my path as they shopped for tiny running shorts. I just ran around them! I was not going to waste my time or money with crappy shoes.

I ended up with Brooks Addiction 6, whatever that means. All I know is my big fat foot finally feels nestled and nutured. I've done two runs this week and walked round in them heaps and they fit like a dream. No blisters, no toenail grating. When I put these on I am amazed at what a dimwit I'd been to put up with the old pair. I still feel the odd twinge in the knee, so for now I am just taking it easy, running on grass and avoiding hills for the moment. I'll see how it goes.

The point of all this is just to show you what damage you can do by Thinking Like A Fat Chick. A year ago I thought I didn't bloody deserve decent shoes. I was wasting the saleslady's time. People Like Me did not belong in running stores. So I grabbed a random pair just to get out of there.

What bullshit! Just because you're not bloody Beethoven doesn't mean you're not allowed to buy a piano. Just because you're not Michael Schumacher doesn't mean you shouldn't drive a car. THEREFORE, just because you're not Paula Radcliffe doesn't mean you don't deserve shoes that don't fit. My misguided fatty fat fat self-beliefs ended up contributing to a really shitty injury and expensive physio. I am not saying my knee problems were entirely caused by ill-fitting shoes – my pain really kicked in after I accidentally ran 20 minutes too long coz I didn't read Julia's instructions properly – but they were certainly a major problem.

I often get emails from people asking how to get into running, so here is what I have learned in my very limited experience. We all know I am still an absolute beginner with guidance from the lovely Mistress Julia. However, please take it from someone who has hobbled round for a month, if you seriously want to make running part of your exercise regime, PLEASE take the time and expense to go to a proper running store and get some proper shoes. Your smelly old cross trainers will not do. Get someone to watch you trot around to see if your feet do anything wacky. This is particularly good advice if you're heavy and have not run at all before. Running is a total shock to a body that's used to just sittin' round or the occasional swish on the elliptical machine. Running is high impact stuff. If you're a total beginner, ease into it with a simple plan like Couch To 5k and stick to it precisely. Allow your fitness to build steadily – don't skip ahead or add sessions or run further until it says to. So many people start C25K then burn out after three or four weeks coz they thought they could do more but wound up injured. Be patient and give your body time to adjust. I learned the hard way (crap shoes, accidentally increasing distance) and really wish I'd listened to my body more. So be kind to your bodies, groovers.

Arrgh! I promised never to be preachy on here. Yikes! Anyway, now I will climb off the pulpit and wish you all a tops weekend!

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Crotch Bib and Camping

"So do you want beans in a tin, haggis in a tin, or beef tongue in a tin?"

"Arrrgh!"

We were going camping and were at the supermarket getting provisions. The Scottish Companion had become obsessed with the great outdoors over the past month. First he said he needed a new sleeping back coz his old one smelled like "Man Fumes". But he ended up buying two. And a tent. And a camp stove. SC works from home, so by the end of the week he is always going bonkers with cabin fever. When I get home on a Friday I just want to sit on my arse, but he is itching like mad to get out of the house. So last weekend I reluctantly agreed to go camping with him.

It wasn’t til we were at the supermarket that I began to get excited. I wanted to buy one of those dinky disposable barbecues so we could grill some vegetarian sausages into charcoaled stumps. I wanted to roast marshmallows over a roaring fire. I wanted to make a damper. Food food food. Food makes everything so much more interesting.

But we ended up in the canned food aisle, deciding on a tin since we were only away for one night and had limited equipment. Good lord, you can buy some awful shit in a tin. SC chose a Vegetarian Balti Curry which looked absolutely honking. I almost went for the Weight Watchers Ravioli until I thought what sort of ravioli comes in a tin? but also ravioli is too posh for camping. After reading some labels and tossing aside trans-fatty candidates, I settled on Beef Stew. Mmm mmm.

Earlier that week I’d thought, "We’re not going anywhere this week, absolutely nothing is happening! I have a perfectly empty week ahead so I’ll be able to have 7 Days Of Perfect Eating. Woohoo!". Then this camping thing had come out of the blue and now I’d forgotten that and was giddy with the Eating Potential of the trip.

But I had a realisation right there in the supermarket aisle, that there is really no such thing as a Perfectly Empty Week. Something also comes up. Whether this is a spontaneous camping trip, a birthday cake at work or a quick drink with friends, there are always little situations happening that you haven’t planned for. So it dawned on me yet again that that horrible phrase "Lifestyle Change" is really true. I would have to keep reading labels. I would stay hyper-aware of what I ate. I would have to assess each situation individually and make the wisest choice. All these little things that crop up will keep on cropping up, they’re just life happening, NOT opportunities for wild abandoned eating.

My beef stew really looked a lot like dog food and didn’t taste that much better, but it was a modest choice and was so much fun heating up on a dinky camp stove while being attacked by midges.

I finally figured out why models are so skinny. Coz they bloody need to be.

Before the Vegas Wedding, my  sister and I brainstormed on How To Look As Skinny As Possible in photos. Shoulders back but relaxed. Sucked-in gut. Arms held slightly away from your sides so they looker smaller don’t splodge out all over the place. Body turned ever so slightly and putting one hip and leg forward. The Vegas photographer did our photos in less than ten minutes, barking out, "Stand here! Face that way! Smile! Kiss!" I totally worked it baby, moving seamlessly through the poses. So the photos turned fine, my body arranged pretty well considering my dress was so bloody tight that flesh was threatening to spill at any moment.

So I naively hoped the Grazia photo shoot would be just as rapid fire, but it actually took three hours because firstly, they weren’t a production-line Las Vegas Wedding Chapel, and secondly, they needed pictures in a whole different bunch of poses. Dammit. Once the hair and makeup was done, I was leaned against the couch while the photographer did some test shots. I tried to look casual as I arranged myself according to my sisters advice. The photographer started shooting and I grinned or smiled or looked "mysterious" or "knowing" or "flirtatious" as requested. I doubted any of my expressions really varied but she said I was doing great. Woohoo! This was going to be a piece of cake.

But then I had to get on the bed. Oh dear. It was a vast four-poster with a luxurious purple satin cover. Now please do not leave comments saying I am putting myself down here, because I am going to state a fact. Anyone with a bit of extra flesh knows there are a very limited number of ways you can arrange your body in a flattering light. Standing upright is one. Actually that’s about it. Once you’re sitting or laying down, you don’t have control and things start flipping and flopping around.

"I’m not sure this will be a flattering angle," I squeaked nervously. The photographer told me not to worry and got the makeup artist to try the pose while she adjusted the lighting. The MA, gorgeously slim, jumped onto the bed and landed delicately on her side, leaning on her elbow. her elbow. Perfect. Then it was my turn. The bed groaned as I clambered on and tried to replicate the pose.

Quite often when I’m laying in bed at night on my side, I grope my hips in the dark and feel the bone and say, "Ooh you’re getting so skinny! Oh yes you are!", and ignore the fact that the sideways positions means the three-tier wedding cake of my boobs and guts all falls down and pools on the mattress. This was how it was at the shoot. I sucked in as hard as I could but my flesh combined with the folds of my clothing made it all very awkward. The photographer told me to relax but how could I relax when I had a severe case of Crotch Bib?

(This is what the Scottish Companion calls the curious phenomenon whereby when I sit down there always seems to be this huge bunch of fabric in the crotch area of my jeans and trousers when they’re getting too big for me, and since I am a slobby eater I always end up dropping food there, hence Crotch Bib.)

These jeans were new and not too big, but they sat on the waist and not the hip so the fabric puddled when I lay down. Yet somehow I could feel the breeze on the top of my arsecrack. It was all going pearshaped. I fussed and clucked and tried to smooth everything down. I was beginning to see why there had been a huge rack of these jeans on sale for £20, needless to say I have not worn the ill-fitting mumsy bastards since. Every time the photographer asked me to move my hand one inch or tilt my head ten degrees, my carefully arranged clothes would go sproing! and I’d have to yank my top down over the Crotch Bib. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. A similar thing happened in the next pose, the Come Hither On The Chaise Lounge.

It was such a relief to see they ended up using the flattering Upstanding pose, the very first bunch of shots we’d done. I know how to best arrange my flesh!

The article was actually like a photographic montage of How Dietgirl Has Tried To Disguise Her Body over the past decade. Hiding behind the wedding bouquet in Las Vegas. Hiding behind the cake at my 21st birthday party. Hiding behind a brick wall at university. Heh heh heh. And I was still trying to hide now, with the dark jeans and the wrap top, but it’s nice to be at a point where you only need clothing for camouflage instead of brick walls.

. . .

Get a load of lovely Nicole here, she is getting hooked on a running! Hehe. You know I do read bazillions of blogs, but I read them sneakily via Bloglines so I don’t often get to comment. So in case you wondered if I am big snobbypants, just know that I am actually lurking and watching you closely like some perve in a raincoat.

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Buy A Copy For Yer Mum

So here is some groovy news. If you’re in the UK, grab a copy of this weeks Grazia magazine – Britain’s First Weekly Glossy! the one with Our Kylie on the front! – and turn to page 36. Nestled between the likes of Kate Moss and Denise Van Outen is… little ol Dietgirl!

Well, not exactly little. There is nothing to make you realise you’re not wee like seeing your big red head taking up a WHOLE FREAKING PAGE of a national magazine and then flipping over to see an article on the new trend of Ultra Skinny Jeans that you wouldn’t get your ankle into, let alone a whole leg.

I have swung from being mortified to gleeful to mortified for the past three months since this whole thing started. Let me fill you in! In April I got an email from this lovely chick who is the PR for the publishing house that are distributing Tales From The Scale here in the UK. Apparently Grazia had seen the book and were keen to publish an extract of my writing. 2000 words!

Thus sparked my first simultaneous Happy Dance/Fat Girl Freakout. I didn’t have a freaking clue that this book would even see the light of day in the UK. I am clueless about how these things work. The freakout stemmed from Dietgirl going into print and local people finding out about me and my secret lardy life. But from a writing point of view, I was excited. It was the first time I’d been in published in print media since my groundbreaking piece as an intern at the Canberra Times: Pensioners Welcome New Motorised Shopping Carts At Local Supermarket.

A few weeks later I heard from the writer, who was a really cool woman. She had cobbled together bits of my chapters into a cohesive piece, it flowed really well. All I had to write a couple more paragraphs to fill in some gaps and it all came together nicely. It then got subbed of course, so the final thing came out a wee bit different… a little cheesy but still a nice read.

The Grazia folk mentioned from the start that they’d need photos for the piece. As you know I had already asked my Mum earlier this year to send me some Fat Pics, but I got her on the case to find some more. They also told me someone would come to Edinburgh my photo for the piece, but I was in such denial that this whole thing would actual happen that I blocked that out of my mind. It was just too hilarious that a dork like me would be in a magazine. Part of me hoped the story would get pulled by an urgent Paris Hilton scoop or plastic surgery expose. So instead of stepping up my gymming, eating more carefully, getting facials or shopping for an outfit, I did sweet bugger all! This meant when the magazines Picture Desk contacted me on a Monday to arrange a photo shoot for Saturday, all I could was FREAK OUT!

Shopping for clothes makes me nauseous at the best of times. But pacing up and down Princes Street trying to find something that would make me look nice In A Full Length Photo! In A Glossy Magazine! sent me to near hysterics. The photographer to me to a) wear something I was comfortable in b) something that showed off my figure and c) something that wasn’t black. This ruled out approximately 100% of my wardrobe. A horrid feeling of panic churned in my guts as I went in and out of every clothing shop in Edinburgh only to find stuff that was too small, black or with tiny or non-existent sleeves that exacerbated my Arm Anxiety.

Ooh I wished I was a rich bastard with a personal shopper. If only my self-centred sister hadn’t have decided to further her career and move away and not be here to scout for outfits! How RUDE! Normally when I shop I get bored or cranky after an hour and give up and go home, but this time there was no wriggling out of it. I scouring the ships every lunchtime and every evening for the whole week. With each day that passed I cursed my laziness and lack of interest in fashion and grooming. Why had I left this to the last minute when I’d know for two months this was on the cards? Why hadn’t I bought some nice clothes as I’d shrunk? Why didn’t I have a bra that held my boobs up? Why had I eaten all those cakes?

I ended up finding a top at Monsoon the day before the shoot. The sleeves were short but I was desperate. Desperate, do you hear me? And I’d found another pair of jeans for the bargain price of £20 that were darker than the ones I got from Next, which looked more dressy. Cool.

So all I had to do before the shoot started on midday on Saturday was: find accessories and a new bra. I went to catch the early train but it was delayed by almost an hour. Arrgh! When I finally arrived I barely had an hour and flitted in and out of high street stores in a mad jingle jangle of bangles and jewels trying to find something ANYTHING to go with my top. Then I had to try and stab my earlobes as I’d not worn earring since the Vegas wedding and the holes had almost closed over. Ewww! My face was glowing red from stress and sweat. The whole thing took so long that I didn’t have time for a new bra.

The photo shoot went okay though, but that’s another entry in itself. I will skip forward five weeks til Tuesday when the magazine came out and I sat there on my step before Body Pump class staring down at the page muttering, "Oh no! Oh yes! How awful! How cool!".

For now I will just post a wee linky here to a zip file that has the scanned articles – three jpegs, one for each page. There is all new Before Pics in the article plus finally you get that oft-promise new progress pic! And my eyes ain’t blocked out this time! I will save my assortment of self-criticisms of how I look in the photo (squinty eyes! shiny cheeks! messy eyebrow! nanna arms!) for the next entry.

Click here to download (519kb, Zip file)

Please let me know in the comments if you have problems with the file!  Have to catch my train so I will correct typos later and post more about the whole thing in a day or two. Take care, groovers!

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Fat Girl Freakout

Hello groovers. Happy Valentines! A big slobby kiss to you all.

So I got the wedding frock! I will stop short of describing the actual thing because I have a sneaking suspicious that the Scottish Companion knows about the site.

(Incidentally, I will have to tell him anyway, because en route to the honeymoon I'll be staying with Jillian, a kickarse chick I met through here! I am dead excited about that, but at this stage I told him we met "through my blog" but neglected to specify which one. Time to come clean, methinks.)

ANYWAY. You know what it's like when you shop when you've lost a bit of weight. Your brain struggles to catch up with how your body has changed. When I arrived in London on Friday night, my sister showed me a picture of this dress she'd found and thought could be a goer. I immediately said sulkily, "Well, it's too slinky, it's sleeveless and there's no way I can get into anything from that shop."

Sis rolled her eyes. "How about we LOOK and SEE."

"Fine, fine."

So we rocked up to the wee shop and I peeked in through the window, and declared we couldn't go in because the shop was empty THEREFORE the saleslady would annoy us and I would be humiliated IN MY UNDIES when she flung open the curtains to see the dress wedged somewhere around my gut.

"You told me the dress is also at the big department stores, why can't we go there so I can hide amongst the masses?"

"Nooo!" She insisted we were better off in the smaller, quieter shop; and we were just LOOKING anyway, there was no pressure. She marched inside and started riffling through the racks. She pulled something out and I said, "Oh, it's a skirt?" It looked to small to be a dress. But no, it was apparently a dress.

I started getting that Fat Girl Freakout feeling. Do you ever get that feeling? Where your heart starts pounding, your throat burns and tears spring to your eyes, because your Fat Girl Sense detects pending embarrassment and bludgeoning of self esteem. There was no freaking way I was even going to attempt to get into that! Especially not with that blonde skinny saleslady bouncing around the shop like a frisky puppy.

"Can we just go?" I begged. "Would it be so wrong to get married in jeans like Brittney Spears?"

But my sister was insistent. I was getting panicky. I flatly refused to try it on, instead I managed to persuade HER to try it on instead of me. "To test the sizes," I explained. The biggest size was a 16 and it looked nothing like any other 16 I'd ever seen. So my sis got into the cubicle and got into the frock. It was way too big for her.

"I think you should TRY," she said firmly, "There is no harm in TRYING!"

I made her patrol outside the cubicle and not let anyone in. I stepped into the dress. I was gobsmacked as it slid up over my hips… THEN my guts… THEN my boobs!

"Shit, I think this might work," I whispered.

"It's not working? Oh well, at least we tried."

"Noooo I said it MIGHT work!"

"WOOHOO! I knew it!" She threw back the curtain and jumped up and down grinning and zipped me up. It look a great effort, but not because I was too fat for it, just because it was a close-fitting dress. It fit just fine. It had little straps, but they were detachable and it looked better without them. It was evident I was going to need some seriously manipulative undergarments to make a better shape, but it actually looked pretty nice. It was sleeveless, but my arms didn't look too much like Boeing 747 wings. Especially after we added the sheer and totally subtle stole thingy. It flattered the arms without looking like serious camouflage.

"Quick, quick," I squealed as my sister danced around gleefully, "Help me get out of this now so we can go buy it before the dress changes its mind and won't let me fit into it anymore!"

My sister is such a gem, she really did find a great dress. I absolutely love it, and did not see anything else all day long in all of London that appealed half as much. It's a style that I've always loved, sort of warm and vintagey, but it's rather fitted and obviously sleeveless and a size 16 so there is no way in hell I would have ever even picked it up if it wasn't for her persuading. I dunno if I was happier about finding a gorgeous wedding dress or the fact that I got it from a Normal People's Shop. Ha ha!

That said, crikey people! If I eat ONE mouthful of anything remotely unhealthy between now and March 3, if I can one ounce, I could be seriously in trouble. Mwahaha! It fits perfectly well right now but one false move and POW! So if that's not incentive to keep up with the gymming then I don't know what is. Huzzah!

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